What are you up to in your creative work at the moment?
I am managing events and arts projects, particularly with Young People. I have been managing the Arts Award Youth Network for nearly 4 years (since 2011) and alongside this I manage events mainly through Unit Twenty Three, a Social Enterprise I founded in 2013. I also manage web projects, mostly linked to the cultural sector, for Cloud Artisans which is a company I co-created back in the days of doing my own Arts Awards!
What are the highlights of your arts career to date?
There are so many really. Whilst I loved working on an event featuring Russell Brand several years ago as the sole technician, I've also enjoyed the many youth projects I've been involved in managing for Theatre IS…who recently closed. Most recently I've enjoyed producing Freefall which was a development theatre piece based on the lives of young carers, and also working with an amazing team to put together DissFest' – a multi-art form community arts festival in the small market town of Diss in Norfolk.
What do you hope to be doing in five years time?
Managing larger & higher profile events and projects with and for young people especially.
Which levels of Arts Award did you do, and how did you use it to develop your creativity or skills?
I have a Bronze, Silver & Gold award. I started at Silver where I focussed on the technical side of theatre and for Unit 2 I co-created a drama club. At Gold I focussed on arts management, and for Unit 2 I created a one day mini-arts festival in a public park. This experience of managing projects - using my arts development to focus on learning the ropes in numerous situations - is vital to what I do now. Whilst I took a break from arts management, I spent 2 years managing web projects for a global automotive manufacturer and all the skills were directly related. Knowing how to work with and manage teams of people is key in working life, along with looking after budgets and being hot on health & safety or other legal issues.
I went back and did my Bronze in the Summer of 2011. Why? Because I went North to help my adviser from Silver & Gold levels by running Bronze Arts Award in a week with youth theatre members. We decided that I could brush up my skills (having just spent 2 years at the aforementioned car maker) and regain practical experience seing as I was starting out with Arts Award projects again. Through this I spent some time learning more about stage electricals, watched the youth theatre show and reviewed it, conducted a long(ish) interview with the Chief Executive of a major arts organisation whom I admired greatly, and then ran a workshop exploring participation in theatre. All areas that are a little bit different, but giving me a great foundation for re-entering my arts career. And it was a great opportunity!
What advice would you give to young people doing Arts Award who want to follow in your footsteps?
Arts management isn't easy. You would also face many challenges along your way. I certainly have found them, from funders ignoring your talent in view of your age, through to the long hours and detrimental impact it can temporarily have on your social life. However, it's well worth it. And I find that much of my social life stems from my work in arts management, I spend plenty of time meeting new people, working with teams to deliver, and seeing the great outcomes for the participants in my projects.
My advice, keep at it. Find and utilise as many opportunities as possible. If they don't yet exist, find a way to make them happen yourself. Management is learned through experience, not a text book. And especially Gold Arts Award genuinely helps a lot. So set yourself deadlines, complete your award, and meet as many people as you possibly can.